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En svensk harlekinad: Narren som litterärt motiv hos Carl Jonas Love Almqvist, Hjalmar Bergman och Lars Forssell
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of History of Literature and History of Ideas.
2009 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
A Swedish Harlequinade. : The fool as a literary motif in works by Carl Jonas Love Almqvist, Hjalmar Bergman and Lars Forssell. (English)
Abstract [en]

The subject of the thesis emerges out of curiosity as to how something which is essentially theatrical is transferred to a literary form of expression. Against this background the fool has been chosen as a potentially theatrical figure. The study of the fool as a motif in Swedish literature is carried out by means of close examination of Carl Jonas Love Almqvist’s novel Drottningens juvelsmycke (The Queen’s Tiara, 1834), Hjalmar Bergman’s novel Clownen Jac (Jac the Clown, 1930) and Lars Forssell’s collection of poems Narren (The Fool, 1952). In chapter 2, 3 and 4 these authors’ representations of the motif are analyzed, in continual dialogue with other representations of the fool in literary history.

As a result of the examinations certain rhetorical devices, such as what I call negative characterization, are highlighted, as well as stylistic and narrative features that can be derived from the literary adaptation of the figure. It appears for instance as if the fool, whose main communicative resources are symbolic and mimic, i. e. visual and momentary, provides a challenge to conventional methods of linear epic narration. The thesis also deals with the problem of illusion vs. reality, mask vs. face etcetera, which is something that underlies the authors’ philosophical and aesthetical interest in the motif.

In the Introduction and chapter 1 a secondary purpose of the thesis is stated: an attempt to create a definition of the fool, the literarily conceived fool in particular. The definition is based on five criteria, masquerade, comedy, exclusion, transcendence and discharge (or freedom) from liability, all of which are suggested to identify the fool. The chosen examples of the motif are all tested against these criteria, which provide the analyses with a structural and thematic coherence. The definition also aims at a better framing of the modern, secularized idea of the fool, a framing which synthetically comprehends the motif’s christian conception as well as it’s origins in the theatrical traditions of comedy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Lund: Nordic Academic Press , 2009. , 400 p.
, Skrifter utgivna av Svenska Litteratursällskapet 47, Skrifter utgivna av Hjalmar Bergman Samfundet 17
Keyword [en]
fool, jester, clown, Pierrot, Harlequin, puppet theatre, marionette, commedia dell’arte, literary motif, mask, theatrical, literary form of expression, Swedish poetry, Swedish novel, Hjalmar Bergman, C.J.L. Almqvist, Lars Forssell
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
History of Literature
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-27360ISBN: 978-91-85509-16-4OAI: diva2:213853
Public defence
2009-06-05, Humanistvillans auditorium, Frescativägen 24, Stockholm, 13:00 (Swedish)
Obs, avh. ingår i båda angivna skriftserier.Available from: 2009-05-14 Created: 2009-04-29 Last updated: 2009-05-05Bibliographically approved

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Mälhammar, Åsa
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